The greatest treasures in a country are labor and land. And how we treat them determines civilization.
Sleet turns to deep freeze up over, December usually a month of return. In this sylvan season of the Maha, cold Himalayan and North Pacific airs push the river-fed Bay of Bengal into the more briny Arabian Sea. Birds tired from roaming seas, and shivery avians averting the snows, alight upon our lush arboreal perches. Indeed, this is the moon of the tree, Unduvap, arrival of the bo-sapling, ‘the oldest documented tree in the world,’ brought by Sanghamitta, who set up the Bhikkhuni Sasana, the Order of Nuns.
In leafless Arctic climes, more expensive thoughts turn to flight or hibernation. Oligarchs in the US and Canada retreat to tax-free shelters in the Caribbean and farther south. Some Lankika ensconced in such netherworlds once made annual pilgrimages to this most holy of holies, our motherland.
During this corporate furlough, families reunited. The pallid sought the tanned. Professors ferreted out ‘natives’ as informants, guinea pigs, and sabbatical lovers. Contracted novelists groped out exotic metaphor. Multinational officials and IMF policemen surveyed the encroaching fiscal bottom line. Old pirates reconnoitred maritime horizons.
Let us examine our boomerang species, those Sapiens known as Homo lankensis settler arcticus and antarcticus. In the US, called “coloreds, dot heads and macaques.” In Canada, called “visible minorities” by the state, and “Pakis” and “Coolies” by the rest. The more white psychosis and exploitation and ice they face in New York, London, Toronto and Melbourne, the more critical they become of our people. As if they don’t really live there, nor ever lived here?
One weary friend joked: “They leave us and all they do is spend their time planning to come back. When they arrive, they complain about this being ‘corrupt’ and that being ‘late’, and how all the Yako are so ‘lazy.'”
Quizzing the Querulous
So, are you sure you live in ‘America’ or Canada, or Australia? Perhaps you actually live alien in a concrete fabrication, staring at a flickering screen, travel upon an elevated layer of tar, to work in another cubic concretion to glare at another screen – a life that could be really anywhere in the world? Is what you call “food” and what you call “clean,” a chemical confection?
How many original Red or settler white people do you really know in your ‘hood, at school or at work? By people, we mean community, we don’t mean alienated other individuals who may not even know they are white – or even their own history, much like you?
Are you ever mistaken for, or called, an “Abo/riginal’? Who lived 100 years ago on that sliver of mortgaged real-estate you now inhabit? Do you know ‘mortgage’ translates as a ‘measure of your life until death’?
Do you echo dominant slurs that original people or Black people are ‘lazy, welfare-scrounging drunks or deadbeats’? Have you discussed rebirth and karma with the original people there?
If you live in ‘America’ what have you in common with African people? Do you accept an income two-thirds of what white settlers get? Is it possible you too are an enslaved ‘Dred Scott’ – two-thirds of a white man?
What is a country’s greatest wealth? Is it lush landscape, clement climes, our 103 rivers, roaring seas and undulating mountains, our heroic heritage? Is it resources called natural or those resources, now eerily classified ‘human resources’ by capitalist employers, as if we too are tea and rubber.
Yakhanda believes the greatest treasure in a country is working women and men – labor and land! Not just the sum of yesterday’s savings and today’s wages, but the future as well – for labor is truly wealth in the making: Capital! And how we treat labor and land determines civilization.
Rather than deploying this wealth to develop our own country, we export it to build others. Of the 500 graduates in physics this country has produced over 70 years – all working for Euro-Yankee multinationals elsewhere.
Our largest source of foreign exchange is not tea or physics, but women and men working in West Asia, toiling for Rockefeller’s Arab American Oil Co. (Aramco) that bleeds the region. They work in conditions as odious as the plantations imposed by the English, and are disallowed basic workers’ rights. The enduring image of the West Asian migrant worker is that of a woman with more nails in her body than a stigmatic Jesus in an Easter passion play in Manila.
This export of labor is yet another stained legacy of English underdevelopment: Since they could not reduce our people to chattel slavery, they imported labor. Since plantation workers were made the model of how workers are valued, people who cannot live this way are forced to leave, to serve other states and gods.
The English also prevented industry here to force their manufactures on us. Calling tourism (or making garments) an industry is an old English joke, because real industry educates workers, and develops ancillary industries. It does not hold people to tea-spooning, sir-spouting, bedsheet-turning gofers, or as assemblers using other people’s needles, threads and textiles.
Yaksha known for their facility with iron, and the organization of workers built the great hydraulic systems. What the weaving Kuveni, yon Yakini of yore, did was true industry, transforming raw material into a finished whole.
Yet Kuveni too ended up as a young girl, interrupted – by an accidental tourist, who nonetheless still could not stop the time.